Here is Lahm’s interview with team.dfb.de , which I found very interesting. I always loved the conviction with which he speaks, and as usual, I was curious to hear, or in this case read, what he has to say.
Lahm: We Are A Top-Level Team
Philipp Lahm has a lot going on this summer. First, he wants to win the European Championship, then he will become a father for the first time. In the interview with the DFB-editor, Steffen Lüdeke, and shortly before the start of the tournament in Poland and Ukraine, Lahm speaks about his responsabilities as a soon-to-be-father and the captain of the German National Team.
SL (Steffen Lüdeke): Mr. Lahm, how much does your feet tingle, how big is the anticipation of the European Championship and the match against Portugal on Saturday?
PL (Philipp Lahm): The tension is slowly rising. Already the arrival and greeting in Poland made us feel that the European Championship has truly begun. The opening game is on Friday, and we are looking forward to our first task the next day. We have worked for two years for this moment. It’s time to get going.
SL: For the first time, you’re going into the tournament as the “official” captain. To what extent has that influenced your personal preparation?
PL: I’ve been the captain of this team for two years now. I’ve been repeatedly engaged in the matters of the team and have thought a lot about tactics, even when I wasn’t the captain. But now it has become even bigger. I pay more attention, in different ways, to each player, make sure that things are going the way they are supposed to. Here, it’s now magnified in comparison to the “normal” international matches. Already when one thinks about the time component, we’ve been together much longer than it’s usually the case. But overall, I will always be the way I am and try to influence the team where it’s needed.
SL: In your opinion, how is everything going? What is your impression of the preparation and your teammates?
PL: Everything is very positive. When one sees the talent and quality in the team – and the width – then we are a top-level team. In my opinion, the preparation has been going well so far. All of us work to achieve our goal. We’ve come in third at the World Cup and in second at the European Championship. Those are great achievements, but now we want more. We also know that it is not going to happen on its own. There is no guarantee that you will win a title at some point just because that’s how the progression works. There’s hard work behind the success. That’s what we have and will do. But I’m optimistic: the team is talented, has the quality and will.
SL: On Saturday, you’re playing against Portugal. What do you associate with that country? Do you rather think about the EC 2004 or the quarterfinals of the EC 2008?
PL: Definitely not about the one in 2004. We didn’t play against Portugal but in Portugal, and weren’t greeted by the EC-host. I think not only about the quarterfinals at the EC 2008, but also about the match for the third place at the World Cup in Germany. Both were very nice experiences for me and the team. When I think about Portugal, I have absolutely positive thoughts.
SL: In 2004, you played at your first tournament. Eight years later, you lead the team on the pitch as captain. If somebody had told you back than that…
PL: … it was never my goal, to become the captain of the National Team. Before participating in the tournament in 2004, before the preparation, I had taken part in only one international match. First, I had to establish myself in the National Team. I have grown into his role. And now, it’s nice the way it is. I’m very happy to be the captain of the NT.
SL: When Germany survives the first round, you will catch up with Fritz Walter and possibly overtake him in terms of the number of international matches as captain.
PL: Really?! I didn’t know that. Unbelievable. Fritz Walter is a legend. The captains of the National Team are the football greats in Germany. I am proud to be in the same category.
SL: As captain of the National Team, you have visited the Memorial in Auschwitz shortly before the European Championship. With what thoughts did you go there and which ones did you have afterwards?
PL: For me personally, it was a very interesting experience, I’d never been there before. Of course, in my life, I have dealt with the German past before; for example, I have visited the Memorial in Dachau. Visiting the Memorial in Auschwitz was very emotional, very heartbreaking for me. Seeing the pictures of murdered families, murdered children, that touched me deeply. I know how many people were killed. Before, that was an anonymous mass of people; now I have specific faces in my mind. I think I’ll have them in my mind for the rest of my life. That’s how it should be. Auschwitz is a part of Germany’s history, a tragic chapter that should never happen again.
SL: In the interview with Spiegel, you criticized the situation in Ukraine and pilloried the violation of human rights. Did you speak as Philipp Lahm or as captain of the National Team?
PL: After all, I am heard because I’m not only a person but also a football player Philipp Lahm. Yet, in that case I didn’t speak on behalf of the team but, as Philipp Lahm, expressed my personal opinion.
SL: Have you discussed this topic with your Bayern colleague, Anatoliy Timoshchuk?
PL: I have discussed it with him briefly. But not only with him, also with other teammates. When we sit down to eat, we also discuss topics other than football.
SL: In private, you talk rather little about football. Is football sometimes too much for you?
PL: No. But I believe it’s important to be able to sometimes get away from sports. I love football, I love it, I gladly talk about it and do so often. However, there are also other things in my life. There are also friends and family who are important to me. My wife’s family, my family, now our own family. For me, that comes first.
SL: Especially considering the fact that your family will be growing. You’re going to have a baby boy. Is everything ready for that at home?
PL: Sure. I won’t be at home – hopefully – for another month. I can’t do much now. If there’s something to be done, my wife does it. There’s nothing left for me except to really look forward to our son’s birth.
SL: And we will see a new Lahm in the National Team one day?
PL: My parents were a very good example for me. They always let me decide. They’ve given me advice but have never made decisions for me. The most important thing – and I also tell this to kids at my summer camps or through projects of my foundation – is that kids have fun while playing football. If our child doesn’t enjoy football or sports in general, then so be it. I certainly won’t force my son to follow in my footsteps.
SL: Some players of the National Team have already more experience in being a father. Have your colleagues given you tips?
PL: I have talked about it with Per. He hasn’t yet been a father for too long. He told me that it’s a huge change in life. It’s quite clear that life is going to change. And we’re looking forward to it very much.
SL: Back to the European Championship. Overall, it looks like Spain and Germany are the main favorites for the title. Do you agree? What other teams do you take into account?
PL: The usual suspects. I wouldn’t just take us and Spain into consideration, but also Portugal, the Netherlands, Italy, England, France. In football, it doesn’t always go the way many assume it would. That was the case in the Champions League. Only a few believed that Chelsea would win the title.
SL: As captain, did you feel a different kind of responsibility and specifically tried to talk to your NT colleagues?
PL: It’s normal that we, Bayern players, have talked about the CL Final. But with all this discussion, one should not forget that we have played a strong season in the Champions League. One should reach the final first. We have demonstrated a great performance and celebrated big victories. We have defeated Real Madrid, the Spanish champions; we have eliminated Manchester City, the English champions, in the group stage. With this in mind, we have to go into the tournament.
SL: Holger Badstuber has said that the hunger [for winning] grows through the defeat…
PL: That was already the case in 2010, and yet we didn’t win the title. That’s the way the sport is. There is no guarantee that one will win the Champions League at some point; there is also no guarantee that one will win the European Championship or the World Cup. We have the quality to do it. We can achieve a lot, but we haven’t won anything yet.
(translation ©unavis. It is strictly forbidden to use this translation without my permission.)